To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture.
Frantz Fanon

Learning an additional language at UCU expands your linguistic repertoire and your skills in intercultural communication. It develops “transferable skills” sought after by employers in today's global job market, such as cultural awareness and appreciation, open-mindedness, and effective oral & written communication in additional languages. Language learning also serves as a cross-training learning activity for the brain, helping you develop skills in prioritization and planning, analysis, abstract thinking and problem solving that serve you well in your education otherwise. The inclusion of language in your degree sets you apart from other students, and the farther you can take your study of language, the greater the benefits. 

Code Level Title
UCHUMCHI11 1 Introduction to Chinese Language and Culture 
UCHUMCHI22 2 Chinese Language and Culture II
UCHUMCHI31 3 Chinese L&C III - Tutorial Only
UCHUMCHI32 3a Chinese L&C IV - Tutorial Only
UCHUMCLA11 1 Latin Language and Culture I (Fall)
UCHUMCLA21 2 Latin Language and Culture II (Spring)
UCHUMCLA31 3 Advanced Latin - Tutorial Only
UCHUMDUT10 0 Introduction to Dutch Studies (Fall, Spring)
UCHUMDUT11 1 Dutch Language and Culture I (Fall, Spring)
UCHUMDUT21 2 Dutch Language and Culture II (Spring)
UCHUMDUT22 2 Dutch Language and Culture II for Bi-linguals - Tutorial Only
UCHUMFRE11 1 French Language and Culture I (Fall, Spring)
UCHUMFRE21 2 French Language and Culture II (Fall, Spring)
UCHUMGER11 1 German Language and Culture I (Fall)
UCHUMGER21 2 German Language and Culture II (Spring)
UCHUMITA10 0 Introduction to Italian Studies (Spring)
UCHUMITA11 1 Italian Language and Culture I (Fall)
UCHUMITA21 2 Italian Language and Culture II - (Spring, Tutorial Only)
UCHUMSPA10 0 Introduction to Hispanic Studies (Fall, Spring)
UCHUMSPA11 1 Spanish Language and Culture I (Fall, Spring)
UCHUMSPA21 2 Spanish Language and Culture II (Fall, Spring)

Level 0 Courses

The level 0 courses aim to introduce students to the basic vocabulary and grammar of the target language.  They are intended for students with little or no background in the language. The exit level goal of level 0 courses, in Common European Framework terms, is A1. 

Due to issues of demand, level 0 courses are not offered in German (code GER) or French (code FRE).

Level 1 Courses

The level 1 courses, in general, aim to develop students’ skills in a language at an elementary level. With the exception of Chinese and Latin (see below), they require background in the language to at least the A1 exit level of the level 0 courses offered at UCU (see above); for languages for which a 0 level is not offered at UCU, students must have acquired this knowledge elsewhere (for example, secondary school). The level 1 courses include essential cultural content intended to develop students’ intercultural skills, and therefore these courses can be used meet the UCU language and culture requirement (this is reflected in the title of the courses). The exit level goal of level 1 courses, in CEF terms, is A2/B1 (except for Latin). 

One exception is UCHUMCHI11: this level 1 course is for students with little or no background in Chinese.  It is designed especially for those UCU students following a track in Chinese language and culture and preparing for a study abroad program including further Chinese language study, but is also suitable for any students interested in Chinese language and culture. It introduces introduce students to the basic vocabulary and grammar of Chinese, and students learn to write about 100 Chinese characters. It integrates Chinese cultural elements by using materials from Chinese visual and literary culture to support language teaching, and like the other level 1 language courses, can be used to meet the UCU language and culture requirement.  The exit level goal of this course, in CEF terms, is A1 (listening/speaking only). See also the China Studies page for more information.

Another exception is UCHUMCLA11: this level 1 course can be taken by students with rudimentary knowledge of Latin, as well as students with no previous background in the language (in agreement with the teacher). Because it is inherently a course that entails studying elements of the classical Greek and Roman cultures, it can, like other level 1 courses, be used to meet the UCU language and culture requirement. Its exit level goals are not stated in CEF terms.

Level 2 Courses

The level 2 courses, in general, aim to develop students’ skills in a language at an intermediate level. They require background in the language to at least the A2/B1 exit level of the level 1 courses (see above). The level 2 courses include essential cultural content intended to develop students’ intercultural skills, and therefore these courses can be used meet the UCU language and culture requirement (as reflected in the title of the courses). For monolingual speakers of English, they can also be used to satisfy the UCU second language requirement. The exit level goal of level 2 courses, in CEF terms, is B1/B2 (except for Latin, see above). 

Level 3 Courses

The level 3 tutorials aim to develop students’ skills in a language at an advanced level. They require background in the language to at least the B1/B2 level. The exit level goal of level 3 courses, in CEF terms, is B2/C1 (except for Latin, see above); this is the level that students would need to pursue further higher education in the target language.

The language courses at UCU are skills courses and do not themselves offer options for forming complete tracks within a major or a minor. They can, however, sometimes be combined with courses offered in other tracks or departments to complete a track towards a UCU HUM major track or a minor.

Options for completing track in HUM major:

  • Advanced (level 3) courses in literature of target language, UU Faculty of the Humanities (French, German, Italian, Spanish only)
  • Advanced (level 3) courses in grammar of and in target language, UU Faculty of the Humanities (French, German, Italian, Spanish only)

Depending on their interests and goals, students who want to include one of these language tracks in their major could be well served by combining study of the target language with any of the other HUM tracks at UCU: art history, history, linguistics, literature, media and performance studies, philosophy or religious studies.

Options for combination in language minor:

  • Advanced (level 3) courses, UU Faculty of the Humanities (French, German, Italian, Spanish only: 7.5 or 15 ECs as needed for minor)
  • UCHUMCLA31 Latin Language & Culture III and
  • UCINTLAT21 Culture & Society in Latin America and
    sufficient ECs of courses in Spanish (Spanish only).

Note: minors are officially noted on a students’ degree documentation only if they receive the approval of the UCU exam board. 

Most universities require students to have mastery of the language of education at a proficiency level of at least B2 in CEF terms. For destinations where there are limited opportunities to use English in daily and academic communication, however, students may need a level of C1 succeed. Students should take this into account when selecting exchange destinations, and need to be aware that they may need to take additional language courses beyond those offered at UCU in order to prepare properly, either at the UU Faculty of the Humanities, through programs offered by the exchange program host institution, or by external language-learning institutes.

The UCU language courses are primarily skills courses, and on their own, they do not prepare students for master programs in the study of a specific target language. UCU students aiming for language-related master programs can supplement their UCU courses with courses at the UU Faculty of the Humanities in the linguistic structure and the literature of the target language. Most master programs in language demand at least minimal knowledge of general linguistics (UCHUMLIN11: Introduction to Linguistics) and the study of literature (UCHUMLIT11: Introduction to the Study of Literature).  

Master programs typically demand an advanced level of competence in the language, as well as knowledge of the literature, history and linguistic structure of the target language. This level of achievement typically requires a transformative “immersion” experience in the target language. Students committed to preparing themselves for master programs in a modern language should make every effort to spend a semester abroad in a country where the target language is spoken; while on exchange, they can take courses that will develop not only their language competencies, but also the cultural knowledge of literature and history that will be expected in further study.

Master programs look for strong students who have clearly demonstrated their intellectual abilities in the previous stage of their education. Master programs in languages often have specific requirements above and beyond a high level of competence in the language (see above). Most programs publish their admission requirements, or are happy to provide information about what the requirements are. 

Deniz Altinay
MA Utrecht University
German, literature and second language acquisition
Courses: UCHUMGER11, UCHUMGER21

Meiyi Bao
MA, Utrecht University & M Ed, Leiden University
Ph.D., Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany
Chinese linguistics, teaching Chinese as a second language
Courses: UCHUMGER11, UCHUMGER21

Marleen Berkhout
MA Utrecht University
Dutch language and culture, second language acquisition
Courses: UCHUMDUT10, UCHUMDUT11

Tatiana Bruni
MA Utrecht University
Italian, second language acquisition and intercultural communication
Courses: UCHUMITA10, UCHUMITA11, UCHUMITA21

Michèle Kremers-Ammouche
Paris Sorbonne, Oxford University;
PhD, University of Maryland
(Topic: From the Sade to the Decadents)
French, second language acquisition and intercultural communication (ICC)
Courses: UCHUMFRE11 & UCHUMFRE21
Also courses in French Literature and Comparative Literature; Previous: University of Maryland, Georgetown University

Elvira Muñoz Moreno
MA, Nebrija University, Madrid
Applied linguistics, Spanish as a foreign language
Courses: UCHUMSPA10, UCHUMSPA11

Susana Rosano Ochoa
MA
Spanish language and culture, Spanish as second language
Courses:  UCHUMSPA21

Saskia Spee
Coordinator Language & Culture
MA, Utrecht University
Dutch language and culture, Dutch as second language
Courses: UCHUMDUT10, UCHUMDUT11, UCHUMDUT21 & UCHUMDUT22

Patricia Valdivia Suclla
MA, Utrecht University
Spanish as a foreign language, intercultural communication
Courses: UCHUMSPA21

Contact person

Jocelyn Ballantyne is the Language and Culture Fellow at UCU and has her office in Voltaire–Dd.